Tall, Dark, and Dead – 10 – Night of the Living Dead

Title: Night of the Living Dead
Year: 1968
Director: George Romero
Leads: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea

Favorite quote: “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!” or “Now get down in the cellar. You can be boss down there. I’m boss up here.”

Thoughts: I’ll admit it. The first time I saw Night of the Living Dead, I didn’t like it.

I respected it, sure. I knew that it contained many important themes that have gone on to build the genre – the emphasis on strategy for survival. The sense of paranoia and isolation. Headshots and burning as methods of zombie disposal. But I’m relatively young. I was generally reared on the zombies that NoTLD inspired. So, at first, the original just didn’t impact me the way it’s impacted countless numbers of my elders and fellow zombie-lovers. And I felt horrible about this.

It wasn’t until I forced myself to rewatch it and rewatch it that I noticed something that made me thwap myself in the head, and swear eternal fealty to Romero.

His zombies have been thinking since year zero.

Whenever I tell people that I like zombies, I invariably get either a “brains” joke (ugh) or a comment about the “stupidity” of zombies. But classic Romero zombies, my favs, are far from stupid. In NoTLD, for instance, we see a zombie attempting to open a different car door when he finds that the first one he tries is locked. We see a zombie knocking out some exterior lighting, purposely impairing the vision of the living people he is hunting. We see the zombie child, Karen, using a tool to kill her mother, rather than her bare hands. This is evidence of cognition and/or memory, and it is awesome.

Ever since this realization, I’ve been a loyal Romero girl.

Links:Night of the Living Dead at IMDB
Night of the Living Dead on Wikipedia
Homepage of the Dead

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